Friday, 14 July 2017

Halton Curve - the work begins

Today is a momentous day.  Work on the Halton Curve has begun!  The physical works are likely to be completed by the end of May 2018 with new rail services introduced in December 2018.  The services currently planned are an hourly service (in each direction) running from Chester to Helsby, Frodsham, Runcorn, Liverpool South Parkway and Liverpool Lime Street with strong hints being made that additional services are planned from places further away.

Frodsham Station
Those of us involved in lobbying for the Halton Curve were invited to the formal commencement event at Frodsham Junction and the nearby Holiday Inn.  This £10m scheme affecting 1.5 miles of single track will be truly transformative not only for Frodsham, but also for Liverpool, Chester, Helsby, North Wales and Liverpool Airport.

Just think of all the rail journeys that will be able to be made not only from Liverpool to North Wales and all places in between - but crucially also the connections that can be made whether at Runcorn or elsewhere.  Just think, as Frodsham residents, we will be able to walk from our homes to Frodsham station and be able to go to London or further afield.

Current projections suggest a boost to our economy of more than £100m each year.  Equally impressive is that the new rail service is likely to carry around 250,000 people a year and get rid of around 170,000 car journey a year too.

Network Rail will be installing cross of junctions at both the Frodsham and Runcorn ends of the curve - enabling for the first time in over 50 years for trains to run southbound as well as northbound.  The signalling arrangements will be completed updated.  The line and the surrounding existing control areas will be upgraded to the latest signalling.  The old semaphore signals and signal levers will be replaced.  I've asked Network Rail for the old semaphore signal from the Frodsham Junction along with some of the old signal levers to be donated to us as a community so we can preserve them - perhaps at Castle Park or at the restored Frodsham Railway station building.

As you'd expect there were one or two speeches this morning.  The most impressive speeches were made by Ced Green Chairman of the North Cheshire Rail Users Group and Karla Telford Network Rail's project engineer who will be masterminding the project.   Many of the speakers congratulated Ced for his tireless work of lobbying for the restoration of the Halton Curve.  In his turn Ced thanked Lynn, me and Alan McKie (Helsby Councillor) for our support and efforts too.

Lynn, Alan and I took every opportunity to press for improvements to the Frodsham and Helsby station car parks.  I pointed out to Network Rail that they could help Frodsham in particular as they own land at the top of our station car park.

It was also great to see so many women at the event taking leading roles.  We were so impressed by Karla that we've invited her to speak to Helsby High School students about engineering!
Chelsea Green and Karla Telford from Network Rail